Are your employees trying to jumpstart their workday with copious caffeine coursing through their veins but nothing else? A lot of them likely are. According to a 2011 survey, over 31 million Americans, or 10% of the population, routinely skip the breakfast: the one meal that everyone agrees is the most important meal of the day, heading out the door every morning on an empty stomach.Younger people (ages 18-34) skip breakfast the most, with 28% males and 18% females nixing early morning nutrition. The most common reasons given for skipping breakfast? Not feeling hungry, not feeling like eating, and being too busy.
The bad news is that neglecting nutritious food first thing in the morning a recipe for performance and health disaster. The World Health Organization estimates that a good breakfast can boost productivity levels by a whopping 20 percent.
No breakfast, no brain boost. Also, no breakfast can mean increased irritability, sleepiness, early fatigue and increased health risks for employees.
How can you help employees munch a morning meal that will keep them happier, healthier, and more productive throughout the workday? Here are three simple ideas to get employees eating right early:
Share Better Breakfast Ideas
Some employees think an adequate breakfast is a donut and coffee. It’s not just good enough to eat anything; it’s important what you eat for breakfast. The best power breakfasts contain lots of protein and some complex carbs, and should be easy to prepare. Some of the most solid choices can be in liquid form. I especially like LiveStrong’s 14 Protein-Packed Breakfast ideas, or High Protein Breakfast Smoothies, for example.
Host Free Breakfasts
In a previous post, I talked about how employees love free food. Interestingly, the same age group (18-34) that loves free food the most happens to be those most likely to skip breakfast. Why not incorporate some healthy breakfast alternatives into your healthy snacks, like bananas, other fruit, and yogurt, for those that just “don’t have time” to eat at home? Some companies host a weekly free breakfast of grains, yogurt and fruit – a far healthier alternative than Donut Day at the office.
Stop Killer Snacks in their Tracks
Some employees skip breakfast knowing they can just feed the vending machine some quarters for a bag of mid-morning munchies. Discourage vending machines and/or the type of food found in them at your office. Also, while everyone loves “goodies” that other employees bring in to share, including myself, make it a point to discourage people bringing in leftover Halloween candy or birthday cake. You can do this by creating a healthy office kitchen culture that asks employees to keep their goodies at home.
While you can’t literally feed breakfast to your employees every day, you can feed them information and ideas to help them understand the vast benefits of breaking their no-breakfast habit. Have any ideas you’d like to share on the topic? Let me know below!
My Partner Relations team and I work with Human Resource directors, business owners and professionals in a variety of industries to provide on-site money management training for employees. The programs are free — and we bring lunch! That’s a treat for every employee, especially those who skipped breakfast. Learn more about our Lunch and Learn programs and how we can benefit your employees.